Working for yourself can bring out your worst time-management skills. Everything becomes a distraction and the TV and refrigerator constantly shout your name. You didn’t spend all that time dreaming of your own business to see it go to waste before you even get famous! Now’s the time to kick procrastination out of your office with these four sneaky tricks to stop wasting time.
Figure out when you’re most productive
Do you leap out of bed ready to go before the sun? Or do you burn the post-midnight oil? Knowing when you are at your best will help you work toward better time management and stop wasting time on unimportant tasks. It will allow you to shape your schedule to maximize your output. Do your top priority tasks during your productive time and leave such things as grocery runs and blog reading for your down times. For me, I’m in top form immediately after breakfast. As soon as the cereal is consumed, I’m at my computer contacting businesses and magazines for commissions, replying to important emails, and packaging orders. When lunch rolls around, I’m halfway through my to-do list!
Do you remember how fast you wrote during timed college exams? Having a set amount of time available for tasks will force you to stop wasting time and boost your results. Allot yourself one hour for marketing. It’s a race against the clock to use better time management skills — to contact those top blogs, place an ad on a shopping site, and coordinate your product placement with a local shop. By setting a timer, you’ll also feel too pressured to linger on Facebook when you really just need to post a new link to your shop there.
After your hour is up, and your list is all crossed off, give yourself five minutes on whatever addictive site you like. Breaks are key to keeping your productivity high and by giving yourself permission to go on Twitter, you’ll be less likely to waste time there during your marketing hour.
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Hold yourself accountable
If you work for yourself, you must settle into the role of boss quickly to stop wasting time. Suddenly there’s no one to tell you to get back to work. You are only accountable to yourself to learn better time management. That can either give you lots of power or lots of wiggle room. To ensure you’re giving your business your all, post something directly above your desk that reminds you why you’re working for yourself. Cut out a magazine picture of a country you want to visit once you meet a sales goal. Draw the dream studio space you’ll need when you outgrow your current one. Or post a simple statement that encompasses your large goal. I have a note that reads, “I will earn part-time wages from my work by January 2012 so I can quit my day job.” That is all the motivation I need.
Make a to-do list each night
How many times have you come to your desk with no idea what to do first? This is a huge time-waster for creative entrepreneurs because we’re easily distracted. If you make a to-do list at the end of each day, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done as soon as you sit down. This also helps you sleep easier because you’ve already planned out the next day.
Even though you may start with the best of intentions, procrastination and distractions will come for you once your home is your workplace. By tweaking your routine for better time management, you can stop wasting time and go to bed each night knowing you gave your business your all. And that certainly feels better than two hours of stalking go-getting, creative entrepreneurs on Facebook.
photo by Megan Eckman